Private sector actors in the oil palm value chain, when given the right knowledge and needed financial support, are able to influence policies that advance the development of the commodity in Ghana.
Over the few years, the oil palm sub-sector has grappled with the lack of a national standard for the production of palm oil and its related products, and the illegal importation of vegetable cooking oil — creating an uneven playing field for local producers.
As part of efforts towards the regulation of the sub-sector, Solidaridad built the capacity of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) to contribute to the advocacy for the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority, with the mandate to develop and regulate tree crops, including oil palm in Ghana.
Solidaridad’s support to OPDAG came under the auspices of the second phase of the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme, jointly funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Accra and the Swiss government through its State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
The programme seeks to contribute to the sustainable transformation of the oil palm sector in West Africa through the promotion of policies, institutional strengthening and capacity building, among others.
Enhancing capacities to advocate favourable policies
Solidaridad supported the reorganization of the then inactive Ghana Oil Palm Development Association (GOPDAG) in 2014 by broadening its membership base and facilitating the election of its leaders to constitute an executive committee. It was then renamed the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) in 2015. This was to develop a strong and vibrant private sector association to advocate favourable policies for the oil palm industry.
With the re-birth of the association, the need to have an institutional framework to regulate the oil palm sub-sector in Ghana, as was pertaining to other oil palm-growing countries like Malaysia, became more crucial than ever.
Under SWAPP II, Solidaridad has provided additional support to the association by facilitating the review of its constitution, the establishment of five new zones, and electing national and zonal leadership. Moreover, Solidaridad supported OPDAG with inputs into the preparation and review of the Tree Crop Development Authority Bill by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs. Thus, the association could contribute effectively to stakeholder dialogue sessions organized on the draft bill.
Solidaridad also supported OPDAG to participate in a high-level meeting with Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in August 2019, to discuss and expedite the passage of the bill, as well as other issues affecting the oil palm sub-sector.
The bill was passed by parliament, assented by the President, and gazetted on 30 December 2019 as Tree Crops Development Authority Act, 2019 (Act 1010). In September 2020, President Akufo-Addo inaugurated the first board of directors of the Tree Crop Development Authority in Kumasi.
The mandate of the Tree Crop Development Authority
The authority is the legal and institutional outcome of the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), a module under the Government of Ghana’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme to lead the agenda for the diversification of Ghana’s agriculture by developing the tree crops sector in order to open up new revenue streams.
To kick start the implementation of PERD, seven tree crops namely mango, cashew, shea, rubber, cocoa, oil palm and coffee were identified and selected for promotion under the programme, six (6) of which are directly under the supervision of the Tree Crop Development Authority. With its headquarters in Kumasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana, the authority will develop and implement policies and programmes to regulate and promote research, sustainable production, and pricing and marketing of these tree crops.
When capacity building pays off
For Samuel Avaala, OPDAG president, the crucial role Solidaridad played in building their capacity and supporting them to reorganize, was the turning point in the association’s vibrancy. With four members of the association appointed as part of the 29-member board of directors of the Tree Crop Development Authority, Avaala says he could not have been happier.
“Solidaridad has proved to be a dependable partner in the oil palm industry. We deeply appreciate their technical and financial support throughout the entire advocacy process,” says Avaala.
With the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority, Avaala says the association will now consider advocating favourable and fair pricing in the palm oil value chain in Ghana.
Solidaridad is committed to institutional strengthening and capacity building
“Solidaridad is committed to strengthening and building the capacities of institutions within the oil palm sector, like the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana, to advocate policies that will lead to the transformation of the sector,” says Rosemary Addico, Oil Palm Programme Manager at Solidaridad.
She says Solidaridad is hopeful that its continuing partnership with the association will improve the sustainability of the oil palm sub-sector”.